October’s Recipes and Q & A Wrap-Up
Below you will find a list of all of the recipes and Q & A sessions from this past month’s newsletters. If you’d like to get these types of articles delivered to your email on a regular basis, please sign up for the Fit Facts Newsletter (and get a free e-report in the process!).
RECIPE: Quick Curried Tuna Lettuce Wraps
Tuna is one of the purest sources of lean protein out there, and is great to incorporate into your weekly diet, but I’ll be the first to admit that the taste can get old quickly (or be downright disgusting from the get-go to some people). After tinkering with various spices and sauces, I discovered that curry power almost completely masks the flavor of the tuna and makes for quite a delicious meal. This goes very well with a side of brown rice (or you can mix the rice directly into the pan as well!). Try it for yourself and let me know how you like it!
- 1 can chunk light tuna, undrained
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato, chopped
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tsp hot sweet mustard (optional)
- 1 tsp Sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)
- 3 whole lettuce leaves (preferably romaine, iceberg or butter lettuce varieties)
Place a pan over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the onions and saute until tender. Add the tomatoes and tuna. Cook until the water is nearly evaporated, turn off the heat and then add in the curry powder, black pepper and optional items and mix well to coat evenly. Place the lettuce leaves on a plate and top each with a heaping spoonful of the mixture. Wrap the lettuce leaves like a tortilla around the filling and enjoy!
RECIPE: Brown Rice Bowl
The next couple of newsletter recipes I want to touch on are things you can make in advance and take with you to work in tupperware containers. Today’s recipe is easy to make in advance, but make sure to keep the rice separate and heat it up in the microwave at work before you mix it with the cold fixings. The contrast of hot and cold is what makes it tasty. Try it for yourself and let me know how you like it!
- 3/4 cup grilled chicken, chopped
- 1/3 cup broccoli, chopped
- 1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tbsp red onion, chopped
- 1/2 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cup cooked short-grain brown rice
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, broccoli, red pepper, onion, oil and both vinegars. Toss to coat the ingredients with the dressing and set aside. Microwave the rice until hot, and then add it to the chicken mixture, and mix thoroughly. Season with pepper and enjoy!
RECIPE: Sweet Broccoli Salad
Continuing with things you can make in advance and take with you to work in tupperware containers, today’s recipe is a great way to get broccoli into your diet if you don’t particularly enjoy it plain. Try it for yourself and let me know how you like it!
- 3 tbsp orange juice, fresh squeezed
- 2 tbsp fat-free plain yogurt
- 2 tsp stone-ground mustard
- 1 tsp 100% fruit orange preserves
- 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp red onion, chopped
In a small bowl, whisk together the juice, yogurt, mustard and preserves. Put the broccoli and onion in a tupperware container and add the dressing. Toss to coat, cover the container and store in the fridge overnight. Enjoy!
RECIPE: ”Penne al Benne”
I have a habit of throwing random things together and seeing how they come out (usually amazingly, if I do say so myself ). I made this pasta dish up just now and it’s very good. I figured I would share it with you before the recipe escapes my mind… try it for yourself and let me know how you like it!
- 2 chicken tenderloins, roasted and diced
- 1/4 white onion, diced
- 1/4 cup white mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1/2 roma tomato, diced
- 1 cup broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 red onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Jenni-O Spicy Turkey Italian Sausage (or the Sweet version, if you don’t like heat), cooked, halved and sliced
- 2 tbsp marsala cooking wine
- 1/2 can tomato sauce
- 1/4 can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp marjoram (or oregano if you don’t have it)
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 cup penne rigate, cooked “al dente”
- 1/4 cup fat-free mozzarella, shredded
- 1 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
Spray a large frying pan over high heat with cooking spray, and add the chopped chicken, onion and mushrooms. Cook until all the ingredients begin to brown in the pan, about 5-6 minutes, making sure to turn occasionally to brown evenly. Add the diced tomatoes and use the water content of the tomatoes to deglaze the pan. Cook for another 5-6 minutes, turning frequently to avoid over-browing, and deglaze the pan again with the cooking wine. Add the broccoli, red onion, garlic and sliced sausage, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the tomato sauce, Italian tomatoes, basil, marjoram, parsley, pepper and pepper flakes, stir well to combine. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing the tomatoes down till they are of a desired consistency. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir into the sauce to coat evenly. Serve in a shallow dish and top with mozzarella and parmesan. Enjoy!
Q&A: How to Prepare for a Photoshoot?
Hi Ben, what is the best way for a female to prepare for a fitness photoshoot that is 4 weeks away? I already have a base, but I want my muscles to “pop”. – Angela
You’ll want to spend the next 3 weeks getting as lean as possible through diet and exercise as you normally would. The week before the shoot, I would begin taking in a moderately-low level of carbs, a moderate level of sodium (to keep the muscles full-bellied), and a very high level of water (1.5+ gallons per day). The day before the shoot, drop to a moderate amount of water (~.5 gallons) and then drop your water intake completely as you move into the night before the shoot.
The next morning, just take sips of water (optionally mixed with powdered BCAAs for vascularity) and start carbing up again about 2 hours before the shoot (this should help to “shrink wrap” your skin without leaving you flat-muscled). If you are already lean at this point, there will be a minimum amount of subcutaneous water to draw from and thus heavy sodium manipulation and water starvation during the days before the shoot is unnecessary. Instead, the external water you drink will help the carbs get into the muscles and fill them out. Sugary, salty snacks eaten 30 minutes before the shoot will also help with vascularity, if so desired.
Perform a light “pump up workout” consisting of high reps and low weight about 2.5 hours before the shoot, then carb up. Right before the shoot, you can perform another light workout, with the same rep range and weight range. Try to avoid heavily targeting the quads, calves, deltoids or triceps (if these muscle groups become too pumped, you can lose your cuts). Instead focus on the back, biceps, core and hamstrings/glutes.
Q&A: Water Weight or Muscle Gain?
Hi Ben, I’ve begun working out for the first time in my life for about 4 1/2 weeks now and since I began, other than this weekend, my diet has been perfect. Even so, I weighed myself on Monday after the cheat weekend and noticed I weighed a pound more than I did when I first started working out! Is this from water retention, or is it possible that I’ve gained a pound or so of muscle in this time even though I’m eating the number of calories I’m supposed to for weight loss? Or am I still gaining body fat… ?
I have noticed that my thighs are looking slimmer so I am not sure… thanks for any help you can provide! – Drea
I’d say it’s probably a combination of both water retention and muscle gain. After a weekend with a fairly lax diet, I’ve had clients come back weighing 3-4 lbs more than they did on the previous Friday simply due to water retention. After 1-2 days of working out and getting back to the clean diet, they lose all the gained weight and are back on track.
As a beginning lifter, it is also fairly common for individuals such as yourself to lose fat and gain muscle at first… “newbie gains” they are often referred to. Because your body isn’t used to working out at all, the simple act of stressing your body is enough to start the process of hypertrophy. Enjoy the gains while they last… after a couple months you’ll need to eat a caloric surplus to see any measurable gains in muscle mass.
If you’ve lost inches visibly in your thighs and other areas, you’re definitely losing body fat. Good work!
Q&A: Eating Before Bedtime?
I’ve read some articles that say it is bad for fat-loss to eat within three hours of sleep, is this true? – Sandra
It’s a total myth that you shouldn’t eat before bed because it “promotes fat gain.” The myth started due to a misunderstanding of the human metabolism—while it is true that your metabolism slows down when you fall asleep, it is the total calories during the day, not at what hour you eat those calories, that matters most with regards to weight gain or loss.
If you are eating at a caloric deficit (burning more calories than you’re consuming) then you are not going to gain body fat, regardless of when you eat those calories. If anything, I’d say it’s actually beneficial to eat before bed because your body is about to go on an 6-9 hour fast, and as I’ve discussed in many of my articles, starving yourself is the key to slowing down your metabolism (which is the exact opposite of what we want to be doing to achieve successful fat loss). Feeding yourself at regular intervals keeps a constant flow of nutrients going into your body and keeps you from being in a situation where your body needs nutrients for repair and cannot get them from the contents of your stomach/intestines/bloodstream.
I would suggest against eating a very large meal before bed though, because you can experience acid reflux and even sleep apnea from doing so. A small meal made up of protein, vegetables and a bit of fat would be perfect.
In conclusion, I’d say to put much more emphasis on the total calories you’re taking in, and much less emphasis on at what time of day you’re taking in those calories—provided you are breaking the food down into multiple, smaller meals and not eating infrequent, enormous meals.
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